At least 38 people were killed on Friday in two car bomb attacks targeting the presidential palace and a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu, Somali relief services told AFP on Saturday.
“We have at least 38 bodies,“said Abdukadir Abdurahman Aden, of the Amin ambulance service, which had reported the day before the first provisional death toll of 18.
The first explosion, followed by autmatic gunfire, struck a checkpoint near Villa Somalia, the seat of government, while shortly after a second explosion targeted a nearby hotel, the Doorbin.
“I can confirm that there was an attack near the presidential palace,“said Somali police officer Ibrahim Mohamed. “Another car loaded with explosives detonated near a recently opened hotel.”
According to a security officer, Abdulahi Ahmed, five of the assailants were killed by law enforcement and “the situation has returned to normal.
The Somali Shebab jihadist group, affiliated with Al Qaeda, claimed the attacks in a press release published on the Internet, claiming that they targeted the government and security services.
Since 2007, the Shebab have been trying to overthrow the fragile central Somali government, supported by the international community and the more than 20,000 African Union troops from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Chased from Mogadishu in August 2011, the Shebab then lost most of their strongholds. But they still control vast rural areas from which they carry out guerrilla operations and suicide bombings, including in the capital Mogadishu, and against military bases, Somali or foreign.
Even if they did not claim it, they were blamed for the 14 October truck bombing in central Mogadishu, the deadliest in Somalia’s history, which killed at least 512 people.